Moving to Helsinki

Relocating to a new city, in a new country - or perhaps even continent - is a huge deal. Once you’ve gone back home, you’ll probably remember it as one of the best experiences of your life - and rightly so!

Exchange programmes and internships abroad are unbelievably exciting, meeting new people everyday and living a totally different life from the one you knew back home. However, there are obstacles to overcome as well, and lifestyle adjustments to make. Do you know the health insurance policy for your new country? Or how the cost of living compares to home?

If you don’t - we’ve got you covered. That’s exactly what this guide is about. The Housing Anywhere Team have all lived abroad, and we know that finding housing in Helsinki, or figuring out how the public transport works can be tricky issues. We provide all the answers - and more - in our guide to Helsinki. So, without further ado, check it out!

We hope you find it useful, and that you have an unforgettable experience in the Finnish capital.

About Helsinki

Not many people know it, but the archipelago of Helsinki constitutes no fewer than 330 islands, many of which can be accessed by ferry on a daily basis. In addition, a third of the city’s land is green space - all in all, you aren’t going to find many other major cities with a similar amount of nature all around it.

In terms of satisfaction with their city, the people of Helsinki often rank as one of the highest in the world as regards, public transport, education and culture. It is also a Scandinavian food capital, with their Street Food Festival being one of the most exciting things to do in Helsinki.

The city population is around 600,000, and there is gorgeous architecture (both modern and older, such as the breathtaking neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral) and beaches, as well as a flawless public transport system and a reputation for friendliness. What more could you ask for?

Finnish Language

Both Finnish and Swedish are official languages of the city, though Finnish is far more popular. Without any relation to Latin languages, many people describe Finnish is the 2nd or 3rd most complicated language to learn in the world. While it is difficult to learn, it’s not all that complex.

Everything is phonetic, for example, and while there are loads of grammatical rules, there are very few exceptions - once you’ve learned the rules, it’s just a matter of vocabulary and pronunciation. Finland is also considered one of the top 3-4 countries in the world for English fluency - if you have a good grasp of English, you’ll have no problems living, working or studying in Helsinki. However, it’s always good to make an effort!

Weather in Helsinki

As you’re probably well aware, things can get a bit chilly over winter in Helsinki. The average daytime temperature is about 0oC from November to March, plummeting easily to -10oC on a bad day. It will probably rain about half of the days over winter, though not too heavily in general.

In summer, things clear up dramatically. The best months are June-July, where the temperature can sit around 18-20oC and the sun shines 24 hours a day! It’s a short summer, but the Finns know exactly how to make the most of it - they take holidays, retreat to summer cabins and fire up the saunas!

It’s a city with four distinct, real seasons, and it’s an absolute pleasure to enjoy all four of them.

Public Holidays

Finland have a superb number of public holidays since every Sunday of the year is considered an official holiday! There are other, more notable occasions where the shops also close and the people get together to celebrate, and these are truly special. Here’s an overview of all the days off from uni:

Facts about Helsinki

  • There are more women than men.
  • Wild rabbits overrun parts of the city, but they can be legally hunted with a bow and arrow.
  • Helsinki is one of the gay capitals of the North!
  • Helsinki is surrounded by some 330 islands.
  • Helsinki is technically not Scandinavian, it’s Arctic!
  • In June and July, the sun does not set.
  • It estimated that there is one sauna in Finland for every two people (over two million saunas and five million people!)

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